Are you an avid reader keen to turn your passion into a career? Perhaps you already engage in the book community through your reviews on book sites and apps but want to step up your game. You might even be an entrepreneur in the making and have decided literature is the right niche for you.
Follow the steps in this guide to start a book blog from scratch. You’ll learn how to get set up for success on a blogging platform, create content guaranteed to perform well, and how to earn money from your book blog.
The 3 Best Blogging Platforms to Start a Book Blog
We conducted research and scoured user interviews to handpick the best blogging platforms out there right now. These are our top choices for starting a book blog from scratch:
- WordPress with Bluehost — Best overall
- Wix — Best for beginners building a professional blog
- Squarespace — Best for artists and designers
Start a Book Blog in 10 Easy Steps
Follow these simple steps to start a book blog the right way:
- Sign Up for Bluehost and Install WordPress
- Decide on a Niche for Your Book Blog
- Come Up With an Interesting Blog and Domain Name
- Add a Theme and Design Your Site
- Install Useful Plugins
- Research Existing Book Blogs
- Create Your First Blog Posts
- Optimize Your Site and Content for SEO
- Launch Your Book Blog and Promote Your Blog Posts
- Monetize Your Book Blog
Step 1: Sign Up for Bluehost and Install WordPress
WordPress must be doing something right as it’s by far the most popular content management system (CMS), with a market share of 63.5%. The next in the rankings is Shopify, with a share of just 5.5%.
Bluehost offers dedicated hosting for WordPress: they go together like cereal and milk.
When you choose a Bluehost plan with WordPress, you’ll benefit from perks like custom WordPress themes and a streamlined onboarding experience. What’s more, Bluehost’s servers are optimized to improve performance, and the host automatically updates WordPress for you.
Bluehost comes with WordPress pre-installed, so you won’t have to worry about going through a complex setup. Just select your plan when signing up with Bluehost, and you’ll be blogging about your favorite reads in no time at all—and for just $2.95 per month.
Step 2: Decide on a Niche for Your Book Blog
You need to pick a niche to differentiate your book blog from others and build a loyal audience that shares your passions.
You may wish to choose a niche based on your favorite book genres, such as romance, true crime, thriller, or young adult (YA). The blog Utopia State of Mind, for example, focuses on science fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction (SFF):
Alternatively, you can choose a niche according to the type of content you plan to create, your goals, or how the audience will benefit from reading your blog. For instance, you might solely focus on top ten lists, aim to give up-and-coming authors exposure, or help people find cheap books.
Ultimately, you should pick a niche that you enjoy and care about. But there must also be an audience for it – go too obscure, and nobody will visit your blog.
Step 3: Come Up With an Interesting Blog and Domain Name
Your domain name or web address is almost always the same as the name of your blog. It needs to be eye-catching, memorable, and representative of your brand.
To come up with a unique domain name, make it personal to you and represent the kind of content you’ll produce.
A good example is Books and Bao. It’s a super cute name, sure, but it’s also relevant, as the blog has a pan-Asian influence and includes posts on travel/literary travel.
When you have a domain name in mind, check that it isn’t already taken using Bluehost’s Domain Name Search:
If it is already taken, don’t go with a different top-level domain (TLD) like “.co” or “.net.” Instead, go back to the drawing board and choose another domain name entirely, as you want to create a distinct brand.
Step 4: Add a Theme and Design Your Site
The WordPress Theme store offers a range of free and premium themes with ready-made designs, layouts, and built-in features. Use a theme to build your website with no coding skills required.
When choosing a theme, consider the aesthetic and vibe you want to have. Choose one with fonts, color palettes, and imagery that make sense for your brand. For instance, a blog about romance books should look very different from one about horror.
Remember that free and premium themes may come with useful plugins, widgets, and built-in tools that enhance your blog. Look for tools such as a drag-and-drop page builder, social share buttons, and forms. But if the theme doesn’t have them, it’s no big deal, as you’ll see in the next step.
You may wish to choose a theme that integrates well with WordPress’s ecommerce platform, WooCommerce. This is important if you plan to monetize your blog by selling digital or physical products.
Step 5: Install Useful Plugins
Plugins are add-ons for your website that provide additional tools and features. You can use them to customize your site and enhance things like site security, search engine optimization (SEO), and site speed or add sign-up forms, connect your Instagram to the site, and more.
Here are a few plugins that are particularly beneficial for book bloggers:
- WP Review – Create a book review website with star ratings picked up by Google and featured in search engine results. Add review boxes to give blog posts a clear and easy-to-follow structure.
- bbPress – Add discussion boards to your blog where your audience can discuss their favorite books and authors, creating a community atmosphere. Moderate and engage in discussions easily.
- Mooberry Book Manager – Display and sell your own books, linking to multiple retailers. Or add affiliate links from which you earn a commission when users click or buy.
Step 6: Research Existing Book Blogs
Research top book blogs to get inspiration for your own and gain a competitive advantage. Find what works and what doesn’t.
Some things to look for include:
- Which website features do audiences find useful?
- What kinds of content get the most engagement?
- What are the best channels to promote blog posts in your niche?
Use relevant keywords and hashtags to find influential bloggers through Google and social media searches.
A quick Pinterest search for “romance books” produces relevant content from book bloggers along with related search terms that could be helpful in generating content ideas or finding even more niche bloggers:
Organize your list of bloggers in a spreadsheet so you can continue to monitor their work and blogging/marketing strategies.
Also, use your list to network with other bloggers to create mutually-beneficial relationships. Seek opportunities to tap into an existing audience through cross-promotion, guest blog posts, interviews, etc.
Just remember that this is for research and inspiration only; never copy someone’s content.
Step 7: Create Your First Blog Posts
If you want to get lots of traffic, make your blog posts audience-centric. Write the kind of content your audience wants to read rather than what you want to write. Remember that most people visit websites to learn something or be entertained–and they want content that speaks to them, not to the writer of the content itself.
Use social media channels, Q&A websites like Quora, and book forums to discover trending topics and what your audience cares about most.
Go to a forum and filter by most recently added or updated posts. Select the forum posts with the most views and/or comments, then use these for blog post inspiration.
For example, on this thriller thread, a post on author Elizabeth George has had over 10,000 views:
Therefore, you have it on good authority that a blog post on Elizabeth George’s books will attract many readers.
To find popular blog post formats, research your competitors’ top posts. Many bloggers have a list of their most popular posts on their homepage. Compile your research to bring together blog post topic ideas and the formats that will likely perform well.
Step 8: Optimize Your Site and Blog Posts for SEO
First, make sure you have the Yoast SEO plugin. This gives you a list of SEO actions to tick off for every blog post you create, such as entering your key phrase and writing a snippet of text to appear in search engine results.
You must also create quality content and a positive user experience to improve SEO. There are further technical aspects, such as removing broken links. And finally, prove you have a trustworthy, authoritative site by getting others with good authority to link back to your blog posts. You do this by posting useful, valuable content that other websites want to link back to.
Step 9: Launch Your Book Blog and Start Promoting Your Blog Posts
It’s difficult to capture people’s attention with a new blog. The “build it, and they will come” philosophy doesn’t work here. So put as much effort into promoting content as you do creating it.
SEO is key to attracting traffic to your website. Networking with other bloggers to tap into their existing audience will also help you attract visitors who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer.
Engage in relevant communities in your niche to raise your profile among readers. Find where your audience spends their time. This might be in the comments section or discussion boards of apps like GoodReads, social media, or online book clubs.
Also, encourage users to sign up to your email list so you can regularly engage readers, promote new content, and encourage would-be flyby visitors to return to your website. Consider offering an exclusive piece of content in return for signups.
Step 10: Monetize Your Book Blog
Your book blog can be a lucrative venture. On average, bloggers earn $8000 per month.
The best way to monetize a blog is to generate multiple income streams. That way, you increase profits overall and always have a backup. Here are the best ways to earn money from your book blog:
- Affiliate marketing – Promote books and other relevant products to earn a commission every time a reader purchases. Amazon Affiliates is a good place to start.
- Ebooks – Promote and sell your work via your blog.
- Freelance blogging – Accept paid blogging work from media outlets and companies in the book industry. Showcase your expertise and promote your freelance services via your blog.
- Digital products – Create products that make sense for your audience or solve a pain point, e.g., ebook templates, a publishing course, or something more creative like a reading journal.
- Memberships – Sell access to premium content and other benefits, such as forums and book discounts, etc.
- Advertising and sponsored content – Place ads on your site via agreements with sponsors or a tool like Google AdSense.
Final Thoughts on Starting a Book Blog
Bibliophiles hoping to make a career out of their hobby should absolutely start a book blog. Thanks to blogging platforms such as WordPress with Bluehost, the process is simple, and you can easily customize your website with useful plugins, tools, and ready-made designs.
Ensure the success of your book blog by creating the kinds of content your audience wants to read, something you’ll learn through comprehensive reader and competitor research. Network with other bloggers and promote your blog posts where your niche audience spends their time to raise your profile. Then, develop multiple monetization strategies for your blog, such as affiliate marketing or selling your digital products, to maximize profits.